This anti-Catholic hit piece is way too long (and I mean WAYYYY too long) to go over the whole thing, so I’m just going to hit the “highlights” (or rather, lowlights). Sadly there are many. By the way, if your daughter is interested in the religious life, you might advise them to cross Sisters of Mercy off their list based on Margie Winters’ account of them. The aim of this article (http://www.donotlink.com/gano) is to make Ms. Winters a martyr for the Alphabet Soup cause against faithful bishops and archbishops like Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Chaput:
The Fired Lesbian Teacher Fighting Back Against the Catholic Church
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Until recently, Margie Winters was a devoted teacher at the Waldron Mercy Academy, a Roman Catholic elementary school in Philadelphia where she had served as director of Religious Education for eight years.
Winters was hired at Waldron Mercy in August 2007, three months after she married her longtime partner, Andrea Vettori.
Same-sex marriage is forbidden under the official teachings of the Church, so Winters was transparent with Waldron Principal Nell Stetser’s predecessor about her marriage during the hiring process.
So, right away we find out that Nell Stetser’s predecessor was totally wrong about hiring a person he/she knew to be unrepentantly violating Church teaching.
For nearly a decade at Waldron, Winters’s marriage never interfered with her commitment to teaching and serving as a member of the greater Catholic community.
Well, her marriage didn’t interfere in her mind, but reality is quite a bit different. You cannot publicly go against Church teachings without sending a message to those who find out about it.
It remained that way until this June, when Winters ran afoul of a religiously conservative parent at Waldron who was miffed after Winters rejected her proposal for a new sex-ed curriculum.
Oh, those mean ‘ol religiously conservative Catholics (AKA faithful Catholics) who want a good sex-ed program for their children. I’m going to guess they wanted something based on Theology of the Body, Humane Vitae or something of that vein? Ah, the horrors! What was that evil woman thinking when she proposed something like that?! She might have been thinking, “Hey, might be nice if something Catholic were taught to counter whatever the practicing lesbian is teaching!”
“This parent was very upset with the school for having someone like me in a position to review the sexuality program,” Winters tells me. “She was opposed to my being in charge of teachers, in charge of curriculum, and involved in the religious formation of young children because of my marriage.”
Uh, yeah, I would be very upset, too! Why would a faithful Catholic want the person picking the sex-education program for their kid’s schools who was bucking the Church teachings on sex? Can you say “conflict of interest?”
After the letter reached the Archdiocese’s office in Philadelphia, Winters says, Waldron had little choice but to let her go. (She was given the option to resign, with the condition that she wouldn’t speak publicly about her departure. The school did not return requests for comment.) “If they refused to fire me, it would have jeopardized the school’s Catholic identity.”
At this point I’d like to clarify a few things. The school’s Catholic identity was already hurt, not just jeopardized, by having a teacher who was publicly contradicting the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage. I’m sure that Ms. Winters is talking about the actual approval by the local archbishop for the school to use the term “Catholic” to identify themselves. There’s no proof that the archbishop/diocese actually threatened to take away permission for them to use this term. In fact, the archdiocese has made more than one statement to the effect that this did not happen. Despite the fact that I would love to see that done more often, bishops tend to not want to use that as the first step to finding a resolution. They have WAY more patience than I will ever have! While I look at the destruction in the wake of such teachers, the bishops and archbishops also take into consideration the souls of ALL of those involved. We should all try to do the same.
In the two months since Winters was fired from Waldron on June 22, her ouster has become a lightning rod for the Catholic Church’s discrimination against LGBTQ members, with Winters emerging as an activist hero.
“It’s a huge honor and a big responsibility,” she tells me, sitting sideways on the couch in khaki shorts and a sleeveless button-up shirt.
Can you say “legend in her own mind?”
“It’s very humbling because it’s not like either Andrea or I sought this out in the past,” she adds of her suddenly-conferred hero status. “It began with a decision not to resign because I didn’t think it was right, and I think people see that as a stand. It has become a stand against the church at this point and it’s become a stand for the rights of LGBT folks.”
Read that again and let it soak in: “it has become a stand against the Church.” For once, thank you for your honesty. We agree, you are totally standing against Church teaching.
Ever since Winters was let go, parents and students at Waldron have rallied around her, devastated by her forced departure and determined to support her in any way they can.
And here’s where we see that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. First of all, are we just going to ignore the parents and students who might not agree with her? How about fellow teachers? And then let’s talk support. Supposedly there’s overwhelming support, but let’s compare the support of a person who doesn’t want to supply flowers for a “gay wedding” to the cash that’s rolled in for Winters. You can’t. There is no comparison.
We’re supposed to believe that an overwhelming number of people are going to take the side of a teacher who works in a Catholic school over the right of the school to fire someone who’s contradicting the Catholic Faith?!? The reason the money isn’t flowing in full speed is because, despite how people feel about homosexuality and Catholicism, most Americans actually believe that a Catholic school has the right to promote authentic Catholicism. “Not my cup of tea but it is a Catholic school!” In short, they believe in the First Amendment.
When we meet, it’s easy to see why: Winters is warm and engaging, empathetic and even-tempered, with a gentle sense of humor and a patient attitude toward problem-solving. In short, she is the ideal elementary school teacher.
She doesn’t belabor her conflict with the parent who called for her to be fired, nor does she harbor any resentment.
Wait, there’s no resentment, but we’re still going after the diocese and the Archbishop? It’s just a little contrary. She might be a very sweet person, but people can be quite pleasant and still undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church. This was never about her being pleasant or unpleasant. It’s about her contradiction of the teachings of the Church which Waldron Mercy is supposed to espouse in word and in deed.
“It’s such a joyful place!” she enthuses. “It’s an amazing group of people who aren’t just committed to the faith, because we have non-Catholic families, but who are committed to the work of justice and peace and helping those who are less fortunate than they are.”
Screeeeech! To be committed to the Catholic Faith is all-encompassing! It’s not that we’re committed to the Faith or we’re committed to justice, peace and helping those less fortunate. It’s all of the above, which is why we’re supposed to be working toward “making disciples of all nations!” To be committed to the Catholic Faith is to be committed to all that is good. The problem here is not the people committed to the Faith. The problem is the people who put their wants in front of the Faith, which is exactly what’s going on here!
The two frequently finish each other’s sentences.
Well, by all means, let’s ditch the teachings of the Catholic Church because these two finish each other’s sentences!
Winters was studying at Gwynedd Mercy University when she had her first relationship with a woman and began to understand that she was a lesbian.
“It was a quiet piece of my identity,” she says, explaining that she was more focused on determining her identity in the Church and whether she was called to religious life.
Hon, if this wasn’t an overtly overarching move in your life, you’re really missing something. There was no quiet about it, and it hardly seems the Catholic Church was in the forefront of your thoughts. Not surprisingly, Gwynedd Mercy is supposedly a Catholic university. Epic fail on their part too? Maybe you should have spent more time discovering the identity of the Catholic Church than your identity in it. You can’t serve Him until you first know Him and love Him. I’m not sure you’ve ever gotten past the know part. It would seem more like you’ve formed Him into the image you would like Him to be. God formed us in his image, not the other way around.
It wasn’t until she fell in love with Vettori that she was really forced to confront that “quiet piece” of herself.
Just an aside, you don’t simply fall in love with someone. If you did, you’d just as easily fall out of love with them. Love is a choice you make. You made a choice.
And this is where the article really starts to turn ugly…
The two were in their early 30s when they met while studying with the Sisters of Mercy in Philadelphia, a community of women in the Catholic Church that welcomes Church members to live with them as they discern whether they are called to a religious life—one of celibacy and devotion to serving God’s people—or the life of a layperson.” Winters and Vettori were both still in the discernment process when they became friends, then quickly realized there was something more between them.
Does anyone notice what she left out? Anyone? How about the word chastity? Celibacy and chastity are not the same thing. It sounds like the sisters might want to focus a bit more on the formation of the virtue of chastity.
But falling in love didn’t lead them to make impulsive decisions as it often does for the rest of us. And neither Winters nor Vettori felt they had to hide their feelings from the Sisters.
“The Sisters were very open-minded, very progressive,” says Vettori. “Their hope was that we would obviously take vows and be Sisters for life with the community, but they enter into that process knowing that we might walk away at any time.”
“And we knew that they could encourage us to leave,” Winters adds. “Part of the process is coming to a mutual discernment with the community. And the Sisters feel it’s part of their mission to help form young women.”
Gag! So, it may or may not be true, but Winters and Vettori seem to be saying that the Sisters of Mercy think lesbianism is just peachy, the discernment for lesbians to stay in or leave the community is just part of their mission to help form young women, and they never told these two – who were really living in a near occasion of sin – that the Sisters of Mercy or religious life might just not be for them?!? Where does the formation come in?
Everything changed for both women when they joined the Sisters of Mercy.
“The irony is that I didn’t know myself fully as a sexual person until I entered the community,” she says.
For some, this may evoke images of women sneaking into each other’s rooms in the middle of the night, breaking vows of celibacy and rebelling against the Church’s repression of sexuality.
But it was the opposite for Winters and Vettori.
Just for them? How about the rest of the crew? Ugh! Make it stop! They’re essentially saying that the Sisters of Mercy propelled them into the lesbian lifestyle!
The process of entering religious life with the Sisters of Mercy led them to develop not just a greater understanding of their relationship to God, but a greater understanding and acceptance of who they were.
OK, I’m just going to object here and say, no way, no how, did they have a greater understanding of their relationship with God. As I said earlier, they’ve made God into what they wanted him to be, not who He is!
Still, it would be a long time before they got together. Six months after their friendship was no longer platonic, Vettori moved to St. Louis to enter the novitiate (a part of the process of religious formation). They both felt they had to go through the discernment process separately before they could consider committing to each other.
Please note, the sisters, who they didn’t hide their feelings from, never pushed the “pause” button on the process.
Margie vividly remembers the moment when she knew her discernment process was over.
“I was leading the community in song—‘Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear’—and looking out at them when this sense of freedom came to me,” she recalls, her voice suddenly thick with emotion. “For me, receiving the freedom from them to just be who I am was the last piece.”” “But with that freedom came tremendous loss.
“These were women that I grew up with in the Church. I really felt called to follow their path and then suddenly I decided it wasn’t the path for me.”
Finally, we have some agreement here! She was definitely not called to the religious life. That said, she is called to freedom, but she hasn’t found true freedom yet. She’s simply found a reality of her own making.
So, a few observations: I seem to recall somewhere along the way hearing “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Who was that again? Oh, yeah. It was Christ. (Matthew 16:24) Also, our Church teaches:
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm
So, there’s that whole chastity thing. It’s really sad for these ladies that the Sisters of Mercy apparently didn’t bother to mention it to them.
Both Winters and Vettori have kept in touch with the Sisters of Mercy, in part because the Sisters have left their door open to laypeople in the Church. In doing so they’ve demonstrated how progressive they have become.
The generation before Winters and Vettori wouldn’t have maintained any relationship with the Sisters after choosing the path of a layperson. They would have been shepherded “out the back door in the middle of the night, the whole thing shrouded in secrecy,” says Vettori.
I have no idea quite what they’re getting at here. Not quite sure I want to know.
Now, Winters is once again mourning a loss, though this time the door has been closed indefinitely.
“It feels like a death,” she says. “I felt like I was doing ministry really well at Waldron. That was the direction my life had taken and where I had grown professionally and hoped to continue to grow. So to have that stopped dead is a huge loss.”
Wait just a minute! Please, ladies and gentlemen, draw your attention to this phrase. With this statement, Margie just gave a HUGE headache to the crew in San Francisco who are protesting Archbishop Cordileone. She’s likely just shot any legal case she thought she may have had in the foot, too. She just admitted that her position was a ministry!!! If you hear a deafening “Noooooooooo!” from the West Coast, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not something the rest of us don’t already know, but it is something some would like to remain hidden. To catch up on why that’s so important, please see https://onemadmomblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/the-archbishop-vs-the-red-herrings/. The crew out here hangs everything on the hope SCOTUS doesn’t consider teachers ministers (even though a few of them already mentioned they do).
Moving on… What is your definition of “really well?” Having a grand professional life? Molding kids to your warped image of reality? Are you championing the teachings of the Church or are you teaching the kids to ignore it by your example? We certainly have a different definition of “really well.”
“I could have resigned and gotten whatever benefits came with that, but that would have implied that the teachings around same-sex marriage in the Church are right, and I really don’t think they are informed by people like Andrea and I who are in committed, loving relationships while serving the Church.”
And there you have it! They don’t think the teachings of the Church are right in regards to them. It always comes down to ME, doesn’t it? She also lays out her mission with Andrea. They want to inform (and really, in the case of the students, form).
Winters could give up now, too, knowing that she likely won’t be able to teach in the Church again unless the Church changes its attitude toward same-sex marriage.
Thanks for pointing out another Sisters of Mercy and Gwynedd Mercy failure. It’s not the Church’s “attitude toward same-sex marriage.” It’s called DOCTRINE! How is it the sisters never explained this to you?
“When this first happened a lot of parents encouraged us to go after the archbishop [of Philadelphia],” says Vettori. “Even if we persuaded him to change his mind, we could have a different archbishop next month. And then we’d be back at square one. It’s the thinking and the policies of the Church that really need to change.”
It’s DOCTRINE, DOCTRINE, DOCTRINE. It wouldn’t matter which archbishop changed his mind (although you’re quite correct, Archbishop Chaput always follows Doctrine), it’s still the perennial teaching of the Church.
New Ways Ministry, a Catholic organization that advocates for reconciliation between the LGBTQ community and the official Church teachings, has compiled a list of people who have been affected—many of them fired from their jobs—because of the Church’s policies against same-sex relationships. Winters is the 53rd person on that list.
Uh, help! Talk about an organization with no Catholic identity! That would be New Ways Ministry! http://www.usccb.org/news/2010/10-028.cfm
“The Church is losing good people,” she says. “I’ve been in Catholic education for 18 years and I’m committed to it. But they’ve fired us and lost people who are committed to teaching children in the faith because of who we are—because of who God made us to be. That’s the rub.”
The Church is losing good people??? Really? This is your argument? Do you remember a little thing called “The Reformation”? All sorts of people walked away over that one. It doesn’t make the Truth of the Church any less right. They’re still Truth. Remember all of the people who walked away from Christ, particularly when he foretold the Sacrifice of the Eucharist in John 6? Maybe he should have just changed his teaching for them.
They both worry about Catholic children who are struggling with their own sexual identity in school, and the message Winters’s firing sends them.
“It tells them they’re not worthy to teach in a Catholic school because of who they are,” says Vettori. “That they’re less than a full person in the Church and therefore less in the eyes of God. That’s the real horror in all of this.”
…and let’s parade the children out again, will you? If you bothered to show them Church teaching, they’d know their intrinsic value and the love the Church has for them. Please stop using them as pawns for your non-Catholic agenda.
Winters is now working with various organizations advocating for change within the Church: Dignity USA, a group that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ members in the Church, and the progressive organization Call to Action have both reached out to her.
Gee, there’s a shocker.
This week, Winters and dozens of her supporters arrived at the archbishop’s office in Center City with a petition signed by more than 22,000 people calling for “a moratorium on the firing of LGBT employees.”
Wow! A whopping 22,000 people out of almost 70,000,000 Catholics in America? The Church should be really scared now.
The petition was orchestrated by Faithful America, a Christian social justice organization, and calls for the archbishop to “ask Catholic schools before he gets involved with the hiring or firing of staff, in particular their gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual staff.”
Holy cow! Has Faithful America bothered to ever take a look at Canon Law? Uh, hello! Archbishop Chaput isn’t merely a figurehead.
Winters and Vettori are looking forward to the pope’s U.S. visit in September, and they hope to convince him to enact a moratorium on discriminatory firings.
Good luck with that. “Holy Father, can you please tell your bishops to tone down that whole Catholic thing in the Catholic schools?”
There are different ways that people form their personal theology, but it’s often either theologically formed or it’s experiential. And he’s experience. He meets people and he allows them to inform what he’s learned about theology,” says Vettori. “We know that if he met us and got to know us, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t influence his theology.
Big. Huge. Facepalm! They really, really don’t get it, do they?
“That’s why a lot of what we’re saying is, Give us a place at your table,” Winters adds. “Talk to us. Meet us. Understand us. And let that inform your teaching.”
Great! Now, what God is saying is that you have a place at the table, but it’s HIS table. You don’t set it. You don’t choose the menu. You don’t get to choose who sits where, etc., etc., etc.
I just really feel sad for these ladies and their groupies. They’ve all just been so misled for so long. I honestly don’t think all of them are megalomaniacs. These ladies seem pleasant enough, but some who hold the same beliefs are megalomaniacs, and they just egg on the confused and uneducated.
Our Church is so beautiful and rich and is so willing to help us on our way. It’s so sad that people take such an adversarial view of it. Of course, many haven’t delved into it too much in the past 40+ years. There are just so many people running around thriving on the conflict when they really could be at true peace.
I hope many more will find out how much the Church truly loves them as the Catholics in this movie have: http://www.blackstonefilms.org/thethirdway/. I thank them for their efforts in educating their fellow Catholics in a way that the Sisters of Mercy have failed to do for these women.